Saturday, November 13, 2010

Doing The Math or "Going Math-Dumb"

There are a number of websites that help brides find vendors for their wedding. Just plug in a zip code and check off all vendors that you're looking for and the bride's request for information is sent to all of the vendors in her area. Sites such as and offer this service at no cost to the bride and a minimal per-lead-fee for the vendor.

I've received a number of inquiries from these sites and the one thing that always astonishes me is how brides can't seem to Do The Math when making a request. One example (and trust me, it's not the only one I received like this!) is the bride who checked off:
- "I expect a cake to cost $2-$3 per serving."
- "I need 250 servings."
- "My budget is $150."


I am not making this up. I really received this lead info. Even at the lower end of the price range, $2 per serving times 250 servings equal a minimum of $500. How in the WORLD does this bride expect to get a custom designed cake for her very special wedding day at a price that is less than a pack of Twinkies? How did she come up with a budget of $150 for 250 servings at $2 each?

Do The Math.

What is a shame is that this bride, who obviously needs help planning her wedding, isn't going to get it. Because when I receive a lead like this, I just delete it. I am NOT paying $2 to $5 per lead just to get her email so I can tell this poor bride that she is being unrealistic in the $150 budget. And I'm not the only vendor who thinks that way.

Do. The. Math.

Part of the problem is that people are not used to planning food and entertainment for 100+ people. If I tell someone that it will cost them $10 per person to take 6 people out to dinner, they can do the math and figure they will need $60. But when planning an event for 100+ guests, they seem to go math-dumb. Tell this same person that it will cost them $10 per person to feed 100 guests at a wedding and the only thing going through their head is .......


Yes, folks. A Thousand Dollars. Do The Math.

A relative asked me to look over the cost for her son's rehearsal dinner as it seemed high to her. As I looked over the menu and did some price comparing in her area, I found the prices were really a great bargain. But I told her, "It only seems like a lot of money because you're feeding 50 people. And 50 people times $20 a head comes out to a thousand dollars no matter how you calculate it."

Back when postage was $0.35, one of my brides turned to her dad during the consultation and said, "Oh, Dad. When we leave here, we need to go by the post office. I'll need $70 for stamps."

Dad went thru the ROOF!! "SEVENTY DOLLARS!!" I held up my hand and said, "Dad .... do the math. She's mailing 200 invitations and 35 cent stamps times 200 comes to $70 no matter how you add it up." Dad calmed down, but it's a great example of the reaction of people who are not used to planning events for 100 or more people.

Another common reaction is to focus on the total cost rather than comparing a per-person price. For example, when a bride gets a quote for $3/slice for a wedding cake to serve 200, she tends to focus on the total of $600 and some make comments about it being "just a cake" (oh don't EVEN get me started on THAT one!) and she can't see why it's so much. And I tell them ....

"Darlin', it's not a $600 cake. It's enough cake to feed TWO HUNDRED PEOPLE!!!"

A $4 cup of coffee doesn't seem like a lot of money .... until you have to buy 200 of them.

This is frustrating to everyone. It's frustrating to the bride because she thinks no one can meet her budget, when the truth is she didn't Do The Math to see what she would really need to budget. It's frustrating to the vendors because we WANT to work with the bride but we can not work with an unrealistic budget.

Here are some recommendations that a bride should do (and questions vendors should ask) when figuring a budget:

- What is the total dollar amount available to spend?

- How much will be spent on the wedding and how much on the reception?

- How many guests are you wanting to invite? Divide this into the reception dollar amount to get a per-person budget.

- Tell the vendor how much you have to spend. If a bride has only $2500 to spend on the dinner, the caterer will not try to sell her the $7500 package but will work to come up with a presentation that will fit inside that budget.

- Be realistic. I've had brides offer a per-person budget that was so unrealistic that I have honestly said to them, "Darlin' you can't get Happy Meals for that amount."

If the per-person budget ends up in the fast food range, then the bride should consider simpler ideas such as either reducing her invite list to a number that her budget can accommodate or having a cake-and-punch reception instead of a buffet or plated dinner.

1 comment:

  1. Indydebi,

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS BLOG. I don't understand why people don't get it. Its ridiculous. I need to just say... Do. The. Math...!

    Thanks tmt578 (CCer)